Seismic hits, biting trash talk and immense pressure to succeed are the kinds of things that might alter the course of an NFL game — not political viewpoints or expressions. Sorry, but the Seahawks just got beat Sunday.
They have caused unity and division. They have have sparked fiery debates. They have dominated not just the sports headlines, but the news headlines, too.
The national-anthem protests and the talk surrounding them has, in some capacity, affected every team in the NFL. But I can’t imagine it’s affected how any of them play on the field.
After the Seahawks’ 33-27 loss to the Titans on Sunday, social media lit up with fans blaming the defeat on the team’s political zeal. Readers flooded my inbox with similar ire.
“Keep the politics at home!” one reader wrote.
“How about focusing on playing (friggin’) football!” another tweeted.
Multiply those comments by a few thousand, and you’ll get an idea of what Twitter looked like Sunday and Monday.
It’s understandable that fans — presumably irked by their hometown team’s anthem demonstration — would want to vent their frustration in this fashion. But the idea that an extended political discussion would alter a team’s focus come kickoff? Come on.
The “outside noise” that NFL players deal with on a daily basis is virtually unparalleled. They’re scrutinized constantly, criticized frequently and — thanks to technology — mocked incessantly by anonymous trolls.
They also tend to be weathering injuries that would relegate the average person to bed rest. But once the game begins, they have an uncanny ability to block out everything taking place outside the lines.
Sure, there is little doubt that the Seahawks put more thought into how they were going to approach Sunday’s anthem than most teams in the league. Cornerback Richard Sherman said the team-wide discussion was fairly lengthy Saturday, as an array of proposals were nixed before they settled on staying in the locker room.
Had this meeting cut into practice time, or kept them up into the wee hours of the night, or sparked some kind of brawl, then maybe one could argue it impacted Sunday’s result. But this was a civil conversation that took place Saturday, when teams already have put their work in for the week.
Plus, think about the nature of Sunday’s game. Does anyone think that, after manhandling the Titans through the first two quarters, the Seahawks defense started thinking about the protests at halftime and let up? Does anyone think quarterback Russell Wilson misfired on his first few throws because he was worried about the hit his brand might take? And does everyone realize that Tennessee took the same anthem approach as Seattle?
Throughout the course of a game, NFL players are enduring seismic hits, biting trash talk and immense pressure to succeed. Those are the kinds of things that might alter a performance — not political viewpoints or expressions.
Sorry, but the Seahawks just got beat Sunday. They were outplayed by an opponent that dominated them in the trenches and exploded for two touchdown plays of more than 50 yards.
The details of what went wrong were explained during the film session Monday. They certainly weren’t the result of a team meeting Saturday.